May 27, 2015

The TRENDEES "We Are Sonic Art"

     Back in my high school days calling someone a trendy was a blanket slam of disdain on the rich kids, the cheerleaders and anyone else that was deemed a follower or simply late to the game. Y'know, what they called in movies (though we never used the term much if at all) the Soshes.
     Us punk rockers urchins and new wave misfits did our what we could to avoid them. For the most part it was easy. We weren't invited to their parties and they kept out of the video arcade we claimed our turf in this small town.
     With vocals that sound flailing about like Mark E. Smith with his hair on fire while some guys re-imagine what Mordecai's College Rock album would sound like if they attempted to be Flipper taking a stab at doing pop songs on circular saws, New Zealand’s Trendees probably aren't getting invited to many rich kids pool parties.
     Right from go, "Power Waves", guitars caked in mud blare a feedback infested squall and drums that sound firecrackers shut inside an armored car go bang. From there uncontrollable musical spams herk, jerk and pant through cyclones of introspection like "Boring Party", rants while pissing on an electrical fence for "Small Town/Dressing Gown", drops acid at dawn on "Center Of Town" and "Concorde #3" so they can wait for a bad trip to happen and, for "Motorcycle (Make Loud Noise)", take the term Biker Rock way more literately than most by sounding like they are living right inside the tail pipe.    

May 14, 2015

Belita Woods "Grounded"

     Before making a name for herself with songs such as “Lovin’ Is Really My Game” as lead singer for the Funk/Soul band Brainstorm in the 1970s and being a singer in the P-Funk All Stars in the 90s, Belita Woods first started recording in the mid 60s.
     After cutting some sides for Detroit record label impresario Ollie McLaughlin, her first single was released on his label, Moira, in 1967.
     The legend about this record is that though the sass pack floor filling groover “Grounded” was suppose to be the a-side but the pressing company went with the recording notes on the tape instead of the label’s request so the more soul ballad leaning (but still smokin’ in its own right) “Magic Corner” was viewed as the plug side. Both side of the record got a fair amount of play in Detroit but the record never broke through nationally.
     By 1969 McLaughlin was having financial problems and sold the distribution rights of his labels Carla, Karen and Moira (all of which were named after his daughters) to Atlantic Record records. In 1969, Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion re-released this single to little fanfare (and still with “Grounded” as the b-side.) 
     Belita passed away from heart failure on this day, May 14th, in 2012 at the age of 63. 

May 8, 2015

BENNY and the ROIDS 2015 Demo Cassette

     The School of  '77 English punk rock played through a USA sleaze filter. Sure, we've all head the claim. And, if you're into that kind of thing, have felt duped when a band that gets showered with such a distinction ends up just sounding like KISS without the explosions or Mötley Crüe's Theatre of Pain album but even crappier.
     Calling Los Angeles home, Benny and the Roids are in one of the epicenters where such a declared sound come from and, more often than not, wind up more like those latter examples. It seems they've made a note of such shenanigans though and chose to walk a path that's paved with rusted barbed wire and shattered beer bottles.
     Sporting four mid-tempo Humpers via Chuck Berry via the New York blast it's all about rumbly bass runs, guitars that sound distorted more likely because they are being cranked up high through a battered amp that could catch fire at any minute than any pedal that might be in use and a singer that sways between gruff slurring and a throaty bellow.
     Toss in some gang vocal choruses and keep all the songs around a minutes and you got a the fixins of sordid night out at your favorite dive bar to see a live band.
     No, these guys aren't tearing down any walls but also sound like you don't have to ask them twice to help kick some holes in some drywall.
Download the demo here or just give it a listen.

May 7, 2015

HEATERS "Mean Green" 7inch

Photo by shuttersam
     Night swimming at the lake. It's frowned upon by summer downers and fun governors due to its potential dangers. After a long day of toiling in the humidity that can dampens everything a person owns in the Great Lakes State during the summertime though those warnings are ignored. The moon light sparkling off the lake that gives off a shimmering liquid light show that only Mother Nature can produce. Cooling off the body and mind, washing away the grit that has caked both throughout the day. Many who grew up near the lakes know will take that over any warning of risks.
     The a-side of the latest record by Grand Rapids band Heaters, "Mean Green", is like a soundtrack for night swimming right before a thunderstorm rolls in. A driving surf beat agitates the motion of the water while a lustrous guitar chug joins in with a force that pushes the waves to go higher and higher and gracefully crash against the pebbles on the shore. The mashed together vocals of Andrew and Nolan echo in the distance like a calling from the beach that the weather is getting gonna get rougher but bounce and thrashing of water has become exhilarating and the risk addicting.
     It seems, at first, the storm is subsiding on the b-side's "Levitate Thigh." A trippy surf guitar line ripples along the shoreline over a easy going and hazy skip of a rhythm. Then the wind picks up and lightning throws a blinding flash in the night sky while puncturing the water. A waterspout forms and pulls everything into a whirling vortex of a violent sound storm.
     Night swimming, man. Perhaps it IS best not to do it alone.

May 4, 2015


     Are we at the point where we can proudly call something grunge again and people will not think we're talking about how Pearl Jam begat the cesspool that Creed invited a bunch of assholes to come swimming in with them to stink up an already crap commercial rock climate?
     If we are, it's as easy to say with a wave of a hand that Milwaukee's Slow Walker are in the process of scaling a mountain of contaminated soil to plant a grease stained flannel flag at it's peak. Fuzz-n-Wah are used brazenly, a fat bass bottom and drums with a particular boom waste no time in getting right down business with opening track, "Dog Meat", sounding like it should be used for the soundtrack for a film of nitro burning funny cars bursting in to actual flames.
     Listening to the album though the thing is with these guys, unlike, say, the Ramones Jr. bands that became a bane some time ago, the band doesn't stick straight to a grunge template. They dig deeper to find out where the sound they're going for got its sound from as well as they places it has went since and, all the while, avoiding the plastic alternative rock ghettos.
     "Too Much" takes a Black Lips bounce and injects it with David Allan practicing speed metal riffing, the hazy day feeling of "Never Coming Back" is something like Feelies stripping the Shocking Blues "Venus" of all its proto-prog jazz adornments and making things much straight forward as a result and songs like "Sight In Mind" and "Stale Heat" have a backstreet proto-metal/hesher punk clobbering groove that should be cranking from a weed dealer's El Camino.
     Throw in some summer stroll feelings on "Dawn At Sunrise" and "Losing It" along sounding like Spacemen 3 being locked in a closet with some Kyuss albums on "Bathroom Tile" and you've got a meal almost as well balanced as Mudhoney's finest hour Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
     A couple of my Milwaukee bud's (who have some pretty good bands themselves) have told me this is the favorite band from town (and not just because they did a Saints tribute set last Halloween.) Jamming the album a bunch of times now I have no reason to doubt them.

Apr 28, 2015

May 15th: Mud City Manglers, No Bails, the Failures and Dale Beavers at Port Huron's Roche Bar

Flyer design by Smashin' Transistors
     Pittsburgh’s Mud City Manglers first made a name for themselves in the late 90's with a fistful of snarling punk rock 7inch singles and their album "Heart Full Of Hate." Running full bore and high on leaded gasoline, the trio eventually crashed into a fiery mess a few years later.
     Down but not out, main Mangler Ted Tarka eventually crawled from the wreckage and, along with the band's original drummer Brian, started to build a bigger, stronger and even more bad ass version of the combo. Grappling the stealth and swift of attacks of Metal Matt on guitar and Metal Mary on bass into the gang the band is now even more of a force to be reckoned with than ever before.
     If Kalamazoo's No Bails were a pizza instead of a band they wouldn't promise you a 30 minute or less delivery guarantee. What they would be able to deliver is that it would be loaded with fat helpings of greasy toppings. If the Cosmic Psychos had kids that they abandoned at a Chuck E. Cheese to learn how to fend for themselves, No Bails would be the one's who would show them how to turn the ball pit into a wrestling ring of televised on WTBS in the 1980s proportions.
     Plenty of people in the Port Huron bars can yammer on and on about what is punk rock is and isn't. Al of the Failures is the one to tell them to shut up. Or, once him and his band hit the stage, they shut them up with a street level blare of three chord rock-n-roll detonations.
     Not just anyone can be a Midnight Mayor. It's a whole 'nother set of rules than what it is for the one who's at city hall for the day. A midnight mayor isn't elected. Hell, a midnight mayor is even appointed. A midnight mayor is someone who declares themselves the one in charge and everyone else has to deal with it. Dale Beavers is Port Huron's Midnight Mayor.
Find out more at the Facebook event page. 

Apr 8, 2015

OBNOX "Boogalou Reed" LP and Blaxxx "For No Apparent Reason" 12inch EP

Obnox photo by Dale Merrill
     "So how ya doing?"
     That was a questioned posed at the party at the Smashin' Transistors commorancy to Obnox's Lamont "Bim" Thomas following the gig they played here in town last summer concerning the rave reviews the band's records had been getting.
     "You mean am I getting rich?" Lamont laughed then added "I'm just trying to get as much music out there as I can before I die."
     With a couple decades of making music with a bunch of different combos under his belt such as the Bassholes and the Puffy Areolas one may figure he's already achieved leaving an indelible mark on the punk rock scene but with him being in the drivers seat with Obnox he's making sure of it.
     Like the two full lengths that have preceded it, Boogalou Reed, the first of three 'Nox albums planned for 2015 (and who knows how many EP's and singles along the way) is bursting at the seams with tumult but also again manages to cover different ground instead throwing rocks through windows of the same places over and over again.
     Rolling in like a venomous sludge, the album opens with "Wonder Weed." The song's (credited to Stevie Wonder but unknown to this writer where it has appeared on any of his records) caterpillar that weighs a ton guitar crawl and cosmic organ that obscure Bim's voice in the mix act as an roller ascending effect for the album. Slowly leading the head to the top of a peak and building anticipation for slamming on the g-forces and whatever unexpected twist and turn that are to follow.
      Equipped with a super rock riff that's made air guitar thrashing and beat swings jazz cat showing every hardcore rat-ta-tat-tat drummer what's up those g-forces first kick in on the next track "Cynthia Piper At The Gates Of Dawn." Fifties rock gets spun in to a dizzying three chord blur on the celebration of Saturday Night (and perhaps jab at the squares that don't "get" what Obnox is getting at) "Too Punk Shakur."
     While the album is full of plaster cracking action like hesher rockin' and name droppin' Johnny Cash & Jimi Hendrix jam "Slaughter Culture", the warp speed space truckin' with no seat belts on rides of "Marinol", "I Climbed A Mountain" and "Protopipe", the fist in the air ode to the ones with good taste on the decks "All Hail the DJ" and a cover of CSN&Y's "Ohio" who's torrential downpour of guitar noise conveys a sense of unrest and disorientation that Neil Young was probably attempting to get across but them damn hippies he was working with were just to mellow, the album is not all about getting the feeling of plummeting into the earth at 90 miles per hour.
     The album's title track takes trip-hop on a whole trip with a washes of feedback and reverb, a tumbling rhythm that has a bass drum and snare that thumps at the temples and Bim singing like he's kicked back on a big red velvet couch. Along the same lines is the shoegazing if pasty Brits had better hip-hop beats "Empire." The centerpiece of the tracks that have that sorta vibe going on though is "Situation". Intergalactic funk finds a cloud (consisting of sativa smoke, of course) to float on while wiggly guitars squiggle groovy squawks that would have Ernie Isley nodding in approval and a  psychotropic beat reverberates the room.  

     While down Texas way to play at 2014's SXSW, Lamont found a diversion to keep his needing to make up a new song mid occupied when not playing on stage. Making contact with OBN III's Tom Triplett and Orville Neeley, the trio went ended up in Neeley's practice spot where there was a "four-track up and gear in place, not to mention a gang of joints and a bottle of Wild Turkey."
     With Lamont behind the kit and a mic in his face and Tom and Orville armed with guitars to split skulls open, the trio crank out four massive blocks of pinned in the red noise. Opening track "Blaxxx" rumbles and roars in a way to make sure everything is on its way to be reduced to rubble and "Cut 'Em Down" sounds like Blue Cheer and Funkadelic dueling each other in a garage disposal. Side two starts with Lamont giving a quick sermon about the bullshit music business before the band fires up sonic bulldozers to slowly plow such bullshit. "Get A Hold Of Your Life" serves up finishing moves that makes the Stooges Metallica KO sound like Frampton's Comes Alive in the best, most funked out punk rock way possible.

Apr 4, 2015

Dogfish Head Saison du BUFF Ale

     Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
     No, I am not making mental notes of what I have to add to the homemade spaghetti sauce I have stewing on to stove. Nor am I reciting some lyrics to one of the Simon & Garfunkel songs that hippie chicks involved in community theater know all the words to even today.
     Dogfish Head's collab with the Stone and Victory Brewing companies, Saison du BUFF Ale, contains those very four spices though.
      Slightly clouded ash blonde in color and a soft pour into a tulip glass brings that brings out very little head (though a little cap does form as the brew sits and breathes which, in turn, leaves a good but of lacing going on.)
     Of the four things that are the bragging point of what they've included in this, the sage is the most prominent on the nose. Scents of peach, lemon, white pepper, fresh mowed grass and honey are also duly noted in the aroma. A bit different aroma that that of a usual saison as their normally a lot more funky and musty smelling, this has a cleaner, crisper redolence to it.
     Feeling very light in the mouth a blast of lemon tartness is very pronounced in the front followed by a Belgian yeast and fresh baked bread sweetness. The parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme come out in the middle in floral and herbal flavors but they intermingle together in a nice blend so not one of them dominates the taste. They add a different character than what is usually expected in a beer of this style. Definitely an interesting twist on it  Things finish with a mix of crisp citrus tartness, grainy yeast sweetness and  earthy spices. A bit of pepper hangs on in the aftertaste for a little bit but then fades into something clean.

Apr 2, 2015

CCR HEADCLEANER "Cokesmoker" 12inch EP

     Always with the intent of driving a drill bit in to the temporal lobe, this go 'round for San Francisco's deviling's of dumpster diving psychedelia they take one for making one inch dowel holes and aim it right at the third eye.
     Taking up the entire A-side of of this 12inch EP is the 11+ minute "Cokesmoker." The song rolls in like bad weather. Squalls of biker rock wah-wah guitar glissade over a coarse rhythmic throb while voices, sometimes resembling a bad drug Nick Gilder and at others a smashed mumble, intone ominous thoughts. Feedback piles up building a thick wall of psychedelic caterwaul that is not a a bunch of swirly colors but a bright, blinding white light that guides the spaceship which starts starts honing in for a place to land toward the tail end of the song.
     On the flip,  "Out Of Design" pumps like the beat of the heart mic'd and run through a bit of gain. Sounds resembling snippets of bluesy guitar twang and ghostly voices promenade to the tension. "Dark Afternoon" gurgles and blurts like things left on the Silver Apples cutting room floor being reassembled randomly.The weird trip ends where it started with a reprise of side one's maelstrom.
     No need to warn anyone about not operating this under heavy equipment as it IS the heavy equipment.

Mar 30, 2015

feedtime "flatiron" 7inch

      After packing it in nearly 20 years ago, Aussie primeval merchants of meat grinding sounds feedtime toured the US for the first time in 2012. Now, a couple years later, the world has gotten a new dispatch of their guttural compounds with these two song in 7inch form.
    From it's first clanging notes of bass and slide guitar lines that sound like they are being done with a rusty and dripping with scrub bull guts, "flatiron" alerts the ears that the two decades gone haven't done anything to satiate the band's taste for skin blistering pork fat with a shot of claret on the side. Backed by a beat that's like a demented shuffle taking a job as a conductor of a hellbound steam train, the maniacal two chord blues oozes til the room is knee deep in pus.
     "stick up jack" strips things down even further with the guitar and bass locked into a constant one chord pummeling and the drums just adding to velocity while rick rants like an old school wrestler about to literately rip someone's head off.